Got Bugs? – From Your Christmas Tree?
By Chris Williams on December 7, 2016.
Last year when we put up our Christmas tree inside, we had these strange black bugs crawling all over. What can we do differently this year to make sure we don’t bring tree insects into the house? S. K., Loudon, NH
You don’t say whether you cut your own tree or purchased one from a tree lot. Licensed Christmas tree growers are pretty good about making sure their trees are pest-free by inspecting them before they are shipped. Growers estimate that only about one in 100,000 trees are accidentally shipped with pests. If the one you purchased appears to be infested, remove it from your home and return it to the tree lot. If you cut your own tree in the wild, you’re obviously more likely to carry insects home – and Mother Nature doesn’t offer refunds.
In most cases, the pests that come in with field-cut Christmas trees are those that were hiding in the thick foliage just trying to survive the cold of winter. These could include ants, beetles, sowbugs, and spiders, but usually only a few. Once in your home, they warm up and wake up and become active again. Don’t worry though, most of these pests are harmless and won’t cause any damage in your home. You can vacuum them up. Most will die fairly soon anyway in the drier indoor conditions.
Sometimes a tree may actually be infested with pests that have been feeding on the tree or tunneling inside the wood. A common evergreen pest is the white pine aphid that is actually a soft-bodied black insect that can be found clustered on the stems. Spruce spider mites are very tiny and spin fine strands of webbing that cover the tips of the needles.
Tips for a Pest-Free Christmas Tree
- Inspect your tree, whether from lot or field, before you load it on your vehicle. Look for small insects nestled along the branches or in the crotches of branches. Look for spider webs or sawdust left by wood borers.
- While still outside, vigorously shake the tree to remove dead needles, debris, and hopefully any hidden insects. Prune out messy parts, including old bird or wasp nests.
- If weather conditions permit (above freezing), consider hosing off the tree and letting it dry before bringing it inside.
- Avoid spraying your tree with insecticide since some products are flammable and because you will be breathing in close proximity to your tree for at least a couple of weeks.
For more on keeping pests out of your holiday plans, see these blogs:
Wishing You a Safe and Happy Holiday Season!
From all of us at Colonial Pest Control